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* Plot Information for Shalador

The capital has been destroyed, replaced with the spewing ash and liquid lava of Shalador’s Eldest Sister. The surviving factions and Clans scramble for a new leader and a way to save the jungle Territory from the remaining volcanoes. The Black Widows, long held at arm’s length, have stepped up to guide, by force or willingly, the Territory towards salvation.
Culture of Shalador
Shalador's Unification
Tribes of Shalador
Tribal Heirarchy

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Author Topic: flesh, bones, skin, and soul  (Read 447 times)

Description: a sleeping court awakens.

Offline Erisian Maboya

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flesh, bones, skin, and soul
« on: Mar 20, 18, 11:21:10 PM »
Spring, 193 AP.
One Year and One Day After Eldest Sister's Eruption

The Night was her Mother, its Stars her kin. All destinies she owned or would claim existed within her at the mouth of forever. This was where Shalador’s Priestess Queen hid.

Far above her dreaming anima coiling and uncoiling at the Black, the body, that belonged to the mind, that contained the shape, trappings and thoughts of Erisian Maboya existed in limbo between entity and unmaking. Her heartbeat was the metronome for a mournful dirge.

Minutes wasted between its contractions. In the Abyss where the essence of wildest wood’s twice lost daughter, along with her surviving court, endured without living? Perception of time was fickle. Seconds spanned centuries; weeks vanished between breaths.

Occasionally, memories drifted into the infinite expanse where the Forest’s champion basked in benediction. History’s embers illuminated the world of tenebrous peace.

They sizzled, whispering invocations of recollection scorching ever shifting surfaces. Cascading firebrands forced her mind to know what was, what would be again. They marked her chalice and called her home. Promises summoned the witch who’d offered up everything. Each compact was bound in intricate, improvised Craft.

Darkness would have her Price. The dead stay dead for a reason. Until they don’t.


When Aztlan was burned, buried in ash, and drowned in lahars of stone and mud that flowed like water three circles marched to the source of their city’s ruin.

In numbers steadily dwindling they advanced on rolling lava and its source, Eldest Sister. Blood and Landen experienced tragedies innumerable. No saw it coming. There was a hole in their earth and it was furious. Why hadn’t pandemonium on their horizon summoned warning?

Shalador was one in suffering.

Countless were left behind. The toll of sparing total ruin was refusing to stop for anything but their ultimate goal. Mercy was given to those who would’ve lingered only to die slow. It was something to cease their screams. It wasn’t enough. With so much loss, so many lives extinguished, nothing could make it right.


A sun didn’t rise where the Mad Lady, she who wandered winding roads through insanity’s fog, manifested wonders beyond compare. To the worry of those who cared for her she’d always loved flying past midnight best and called it witching’s hour. Twinkling stars shone out of Ebony below, bringing radiance strange and more extraordinary than any jealous sun. With them they carried mysteries unveiled. The woman of soul and soil looked down into the ever expanding hollow. She saw limitless love and returned it in kind. 

In the beginning, Erisian tried to dive into the universe’s boundless well but found herself hung and tied tight to the domain of above. Strings of silver, and one gold, dripping with crimson threads connected her, no matter the form she chose, to the very Realm that betrayed her.  They would not be severed. Who remained of her loyal bonded acted as anchors and incentives to do something braver than die a martyr. Down ever thinning lengths hummed hymns of remembrance; stubborn reminders of oaths sworn by virtue of ancient rite.

Three hundred and sixty five nights and one additional dawn passed for Shalador. On the anniversary of the eruption they grieved the lost and celebrated heroes felled. Come the three hundred and sixty sixth day, when the sun set in Terreille? It rose for the Darkest spirit in the wood.

Fire danced in her sky. The Priestess Queen’s pulse beat in sync with five others. She felt the flesh, hers and theirs. In their harmonic union a prayer. Akan. Elua. Lyra. Samuel. Fariq. A litany of names fended off the sound of a demon’s sign.

The Traitor.


Family no more.

She was there but not of them, refused her death because for her sins it was too merciful. Both women were turned back by oblivion. One whose punishment demanded she stand witness.

The other? For purpose. The things mixed in the making of her tempestuous quintessence were not done singing their song.

Cinders and ash fell like rain. Woe rocked her bones. Merciless memories discarded reappeared, relentless in their pace. She pulled at braids of moonlight keeping her from merging into nirvana.

Eris remembered a smile that belonged to a woman who perished so she might one day thrive.

Then, like always when she needed her, there she was. Mara. Her arrival usually brought the taste of salt but then it was sweeter than honey and more refreshing than any rain.  She donned her costume of humanity and brought it to meet the spectre that wore the visage of the Pruulian who first showed her love in brightness.

When she spoke it was in a whisper while they embraced cheek to cheek. A Mother imparting wisdom to her headstrong servant.  “My girl, stop racing for a finish not yours.

There’s promises to keep. Continuously you’ll choose, never done option’s weighing. Suffering shall be plentiful. No matter the course, it’s inescapable. Be graceful when it comes. Make armor of hallowed mist. Gather faith to weather maelstroms already churning.

Fear was the only response to such harsh certainties. Bright was its display on the cleric’s true-worn face and oh how her figure outside of frame trembled.

Mara’s lips? They smiled. “Tend your wisdom, darkling. This is far from your last crucible but by every trial you’ll be transformed sublime. Peace isn’t the gift I made of you. To these battles great rewards. Sow your sorrow’s seeds and a new Forest will prosper. What’s happened before will happen once more.

She denied rest clung tight to the manifestation of the afterworld that wore Mara’s warmth as a guise but was really a guide grim but kind come to send her home. Eris would obey, but she ached to stay and couldn’t stop the childish half-begged sentiment that slipped her next. It was true. It didn’t matter.

I don’t want to go…”  murmured the sovereign into the soft harbor that was the crook of her divine messenger’s neck. Humbled with but a look she claimed the student’s pose on bended knees. Her head rested against Mara’s belly and listened to the figment of life, imagining the womb that dreamt them all. Found was the resolve to obey her orders but no respite quelled the grief they caused.

To doubt in the face of the holiest was no way to end her term as part of paradise. However, the weight of what was to come made it too much for her to stand even in their bittersweet rapture absent of gravity. Mother understood. Unblinking, Mara’s eyes witnessed that which the will behind them knew well before seeing.

Where Eris had been, where she’d sworn action? These places had not and would not be gentle. Her despair was deserved. Tears ran down the supplicant’s face and shattered. In their splashing emerged petals of every shade melting into an endless celestial ballet. Their Abyssal firmament swirling all around, the Priestess Queen felt glory’s embrace in Mara’s arms.

We swore there was work to do. Find your strays, the abandoned to whom you belong, your children and flock. Make them strong. Charred skies are just harbingers of the innumerably mouthed monsters forthcoming. Kill the demons that would see you tamed. Taste their vigor, make it your own. Conquer like the feathered serpents that taught precious Shal. You’ll reap awful learning spiked in piercing, exquisite joys.” The eventide apparition spoke, touched by her child’s agonies but steadfast in her course.  Mara’s hands brought the loyal adherent back to her feet. She soothed her bereaved child, taking Eris’s face in her hands and placing a kiss on both closed eyes of the devout sinner who wished to stay cloaked in heaven. A third blessing met the center of her brow - the seat of intuition.

What she was, and who she was meant to be. Understanding of mission transcendent. The devotee of Terreille’s most verdant jungle experienced the truth the brands on her soul.

Night told her the signs woven into her making and what she must surrender for their secrets. More names than the total of her lifespan’s years carried duty. Their syllables were incantations of the Old Tongue that found home in Erisian’s blood. Titles resonating like ringing bells travelled up reality’s winding webs. Their melodies chimed for those who’d listen. Orchestral symphonies of reminiscence and covenant sung their mistress meaning.

When it was done, creature looked at creator with water no longer spilling out the eyes of her self’s simulacrum. In connection and communion she’d savored freedom but was at last being sent back to a future owned by chains of duty; her destiny framed by unyielding hands. To those who wore the greatest of her bounty Mother gave all. In exchange, she expected none less than the same granted with consummate devotion.

The offering was taken,” Where her heart should be Erisian felt her Jewel of Rank. “Deliver what is due.


At the vengeful mountain’s base barely chaos’s reign was absolute, a constant and cruel cacophony. Hell’s molten fury razed land.  Communication was only possible along threads that wavered unreliably. When they drew nearer the volcano and the surrounding fissures that divided rock in branching cracks and shot lava in lethal arcs? Yelling their throats raw was all they had to be heard.

 Lady Maboya commanded her court who were dutiful as discord reigned. Zaniyah, Rian and Acelia wove virtues of the Court together and used their combined alchemies to coax forth feats that should’ve been impossible amidst the ravenous blaze.

When the punishing environment made  their charge to press ahead impossible, a rite was performed. Lady Akna was the conduit through which a miracle was called by the three of her caste who would continue robed in the conviction that what they served would preserve them.

Each survivor had a part to play and did theirs well. The High Priestess assured it.

Erisian’s blade was there in an instant. She drew across her mentor’s throat her sacramental athame fashioned from bone and teeth. In that final and liberating moment Zaniyah’s vitality rained heavily upon her Queen. Blood magic channeled the Red Priestess’s passing. A link was born and underwritten with the energies of the Black, the Gray, the Red, the Green, the Blood Opal and its fairer twin. Purple Dusk and even Rose entwined the ritual. The spell shook the earth.

Igneous curtains threatened to swallow the party who dared war in the face of nature’s wrath. Instinct and prayer spared precious few. At full measure of her power Shalador’s regent summoned ancient thaumaturge’s marvels and conjured, belief, and marrow of those who still lived to enact arcane phenomenons greater than individual expertise allowed.

The sums of their unique capabilities were conducted by Priestesses. Occult talents drew from faithful  the alchemy of their currents and weave and wield such as their own. Acieia’s words instructed those who gave completely. The Uzumati witch illustrated the complex with elegant clarity.

Rian’s centuries of leadership guided the ceremony on which they’d gambled. 

Erisian manipulated  the flow of their many spirits and tied them to the soil fertile off her gift.

Flames made to consume were denied swallowing the court. Instead of breaking on doomed survivors their ravenous reach broke on Black walls bolstered by those gathered and some far though not forgotten. The onslaught’s weigh sunk the lonely patch of land. Wards carved the ground that quaked with the force of their parting.  Huge chunks of earth crumbled inward tumbling after their plunge.

Sinking slowly below liquid inferno and trembling terrain the Maboyan witches and those they commanded proved defiant, working fiercely even as they vanished. Where Eldest’s molten ferocity made contact with the shields glimmering obsidian enveloped the surviving party’s descent. It was as if Abyss incarnate claimed their number. 

Lava was transfigured crystalline and ebony against the cold resolve of so much magic and reckless hope until there was naught to be seen by those within but that reflected back at them in their sweltering stolen refuge.


Less than two hundred metres south the vicious mountain, hidden by mineral, metal and mirror preserved in Craft and glass slumbered six heroes mislabeled as martyrs. Under the earth’s crust wreathed in magma flowing from the lake on which the volcano fed they were reborn. Gossamer strands of prophecy quivered sending omens rippling through the Realms of mortal kind.

Suspended at Death’s threshold beings in psycho spiritual symbiosis bathed in Providence stirred. Their existence as pieces of a greater passion met its end. Soon they’d be like everyone else in the lonely cosmos.

In their wake rode one architect of injustice, her surrender rejected. The traitor shuddered, her revival wouldn’t be kind.

Synergy flipped to singularity. We became I, He, She, They. The stuff of soul’s substance untangled. Ego and its desolation claimed them anew. With its borders? Linear memory, agonizing clarity, and burdens of destinies grand as they were unfair.

Lightning arced in wide circles about the volcano that destroyed Aztlan. The Mad Court scaled thirteen peaks. With every rank climbed winds chasing them quickened, howling in their whipping. 


Entombed  in their cave wrought from Craft, witchlight guided suicidally noble efforts. Crystals of every hue grown sprung by the pressure and power between their sanctuary and terrible heat saw iridescent incandescence slice prisms out the dark. Sweat slick reflections covered by sanguine paintings slid like shadows within the ebony.

At the center, three Priestesses.

Aciela. Eris. Rian. Maiden. Mother. Crone. In joined step they stomped a firedance’s rhythm and all in their altar forged of hope and might matched them step for step.

Adar, father to the sister Priestesses, stood at the center point in the triangle made of the trinity. Both Daughters held blades. Aciela’s Green froze him in position so that he’d stand until the very last of his animating humour spilled. While siblings prepared she performed his final rites. After their completion her dagger and spellwork  joined that of Gray and Black.

Dire haste moved spellwork inspired but untested because there hadn’t been need for it in the aeons since the Territory’s unification. Voices in concert, the Priestesses chanted reciting ancient enchantments of the first tribes. Aciela sang a haunting melody. Daggers sent off sparks, tracing sacred geometries in their passing. Synchronized were the shapings. Lines glowing scarlet bloomed. Their drawing corporealized bonds within bonds about those standing. 

Seven patterned an imperfect circle.

Akan, the Shield, Voice and sin steeped savior.  Elua,  Guiding Siren Light. Her guide roaming twisting paths best not crossed alone. Fariq, Steward and Sun King.  Lyra, Dusk Wolf of the ever burning hearth. Samuel, cleverest of her boys, Prince of Sums. Razvan, The Blade divorced of remorse. Worst of her men but no less loved. Theoden. Unwaveringly kind, his paternal reason taught a court gone feral by need the foreign ways of their civilized place in Terreille.

Lady Uzumati’s song hit a solemn soprano note and three angled knives stabbed through Adar. Two lost their father, the rest a loyal friend. His vitae did not fall. Instead, it congealed in the air forming thick serpentine ropes which vanished. becoming one with myriad glyphs illuminating the blistering shelter preserving Aztlan’s last hopes.

Aciela’s death followed beside Adar and her blade joined that of Eris and Rian’s when the time arrived. She passed singing and like the Eyrien Warlord Prince remained standing well after vigor fled her vessel. Her final refrain persisted and permeated the den of crystal and, walls reflecting otherworlds. The remaining women bound by family, tribe and caste, moved forward to a point ahead and between Adar and Aciela.

A triangle was at the inexact ring’s center. Cadence unified, twin daggers flashed and split the spectral light only to make more in their travel. Bowing to one another, Erisian and Rian’s paths diverged. Shalador’s former ruler withdrew a smaller knife of onyx and used it to artfully trace sigils on her red marked skin of rich bronze.

Erisian walked to Akan.

Give you without condition to Queen and Land?

The longest serving of her retinue nodded. In response she cut a line down her right arm and coated her left hand in what ran forth. She placed her palm against her escort’s chest, feeling the pulse in his breast. Briefly did the mark glow before vanishing beneath flesh as the enchantment took hold leaving Prince Uzumati feeling as if his Lady gripped his heart. 

What’s yours to yield is mine to sculpt and what’s mine to forge is yours to know.

This she repeated with all who kept vigil encircling the triangle of sacrifice before returning to Rian at its apex. Determined eyes stared from the ash and filth accumulated on the Priestess Queen’s face and filled with longing for a different movement. Rian remained impassive even at the edge of her demise.  Their knives waltzed, spinning primeval runes from their tips.

Aciela’s psalm went on and on. The firedance’s tempo raced towards a frenetic climax. A crescendo built and earth around them reverberated with the ritual. The very walls of Eldest Sister echoed their beat. Dancing daggers ceased their ballet and stretched high. Rian’s turned inward and pushed clear through her chest aided by the Gray. Erisian’s cut across her sister’s throat and like father and friend before her the Eyrien who’d made Shalador her own remained tall after her  passing.

At the core of the circle cut by a blooded triangle serving as its fourth line Erisian’s  hands pulled lambent cords of fourteen hues out  the aether. Most were provided by essence of those still alive to crusade. What wasn’t drawn from those present? Stolen out of far flung souls that consented to a needful call asking they give in their nation’s desperate hour without concern for expense or reason. 

In their weaving the boundaries between beings, minds and wills evaporated. They breathed, saw, and felt as one. Awash in the Black they shared their strengths, castes and the very fiber of their making with their Queen. Ritual opened a channel to something past the might of Jewels alone. Beatific grace thickened the space and filled determined supplicants with unearthly surety of intent.

Polychromatic phosphorescence suffused their holy haven. Synchronized voices rushed through prayers first spun in primordial tongues. Those still living knew the holy language because their Lady loved its ways. Together they called to the land, Erisian’s athame spilled the libation of her extraordinary animation.

She fell backwards. Golden eyes rolled in her head so that only their whites showed and in her falling she was joined. They rose and fell as if place by unseen aids. A deathlike sleep took the Mad Court. Blended together they traveled to work wonders surpassing space and form.

By unified command vines from Forest unburned by voracious flame answered Eris’s summons and found their cavern, passing through even wards and thick volcanic walls like a needle through tapestry.  They filled the sanctuary with vines and flowers that bloomed and flourished making of themselves blanketed beds for those who dreamed salvation for Shalador.

Three days later, Eldest Sister fell quiet, trapped in fitful slumber. Pious madness and valor unchained by reason were pieces of many boons they’d apperceive.


Uncoupling from merged existence whilst being chased by the sum of forces and marvels assembled for sacrosanct undertakings was no tranquil task. Riding a sea of sanctified vows, she and hers rediscovered identity.

Samuel and Fariq faltered, strained by the momentousness of the duty to which they returned, threatened to sink beyond her grasp. Razvan and Theoden were already gone, their making consumed. He and them threatened to become they then that. Two more pledges were made for their keeping with visions contrived more of hunger than piety.

Loss wouldn’t get the victory of fate cut short. Erisian Maboya, explorer of twisted territories obscure and mist brightened, born to search and search again and never be done the finding; guardian of the forgotten; hearth and heart for whom the crackling fire burned, knew innumerable varied incarnations during her voyage in, of and as perfect harmony and communion. She used what she learned.

Every thing she’d dreamed of being instead of that which she must be was a lesson. Her delirium draped in divinity. She’d melded with the Black while in its depths, there was no extricating it fully from the imagination of her being. This and more she used to save her brilliant boy, her sun king, and mitigate the toll of debts coupling the ordained obligations of all revived.

The momentum of their journey couldn’t be slowed. Whipping winds of coming change fueled a tempest. To all things a cost. Rapid rise from the home they’d made for their nigh merged existence meant a Witchstorm heralded their revival. Too much followed their ascent; they were being thrust home by future’s demand on a tidal wave of primal blessing.

Lives deserted for four seasons, one day three hours past sunset were claimed. Essences reconstructed by consequence of mystical exaltation discovered  bodies sustained but taxed by waiting.

Gold eyes glowing like noon through leaves shot open wide.

Eris breathed. She smelled growth, sweat, rot and iron. Confined in a coffin of vines the energy at her fingertips stole freedom with ease. Her psyche rebelled against a body flush with pain. Palms beat against obsidian. Crackling electricity lit the chamber casting fickle images off vine and flower atop a carpet of witchblood.

The false prophet’s face flickered into view. Rian lived, resting in a bed of creeping growth. For her crimes Hell without first the torturous experience of her living legacy spoiled by truth would’ve been too kind. So said the Night. First the Gray Jeweled Priestess denounced by Dark would experience every loss she’d visited on the victim’s of her design.

Rage cold as space’s emptiest chasms cracked the walls producing fractals in their reflecting. She remembered eternity and understood the Eyrien bitch couldn’t yet be killed. Empowered at the eye of her hurricane Maboya’s Queen closed the space between them in a single, certain step. She leapt upon the disinherited apostate whose blood screamed its sins in her veins.

When their gazes met and Eris was sure Rian would understand, a wild smile split across her face. “Everybody knows,” was all she said before a shielded fist met with meat and teeth and just kept punching. Survival cut sinners out of saints. Lady Mad meant to show Rian how sharp salt, sand and sanity’s loss shaped a girl tossed to devils and forced to endure.

Offline Nova Marzena

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Re: flesh, bones, skin, and soul
« Reply #1 on: Mar 21, 18, 06:53:04 PM »
In the morning, Nova took her constitutional sparring with Yuki no Natsuhana and her escort, Haneul. She did this every morning from the day that she had met Yuki; the Tacean Healer Queen had not known of Nova's accused betrayal, and that was refreshing. She needed to be surrounded sometimes by those who didn't know of the awful spiritual slander, and today more than ever.

One year ago, her father had walked to the Eldest Sister with his bonded Queen, Erisian Maboya. Not one of them had been seen since. That Theoden Marzena was remembered among those who had sacrificed their lives was cold comfort to the daughter to whom he had never said goodbye. Many of them said he'd gone up the mountain as penance for Nova's crimes, and Nova couldn't say it was untrue. She never had the chance to tell him that the accusations were false... and the evidence had been so damning. Had he died believing she'd betrayed everything he had taught her? Had Theoden decided Celebrian's corruption had eaten away at every Shaladorian value that formed the foundation of Nova's soul?

The morning after the official celebration, Nova poured out her rage and pain into her practice, steadfastly ignoring Haneul and Yuki as they performed their own drills and practice fights. It wasn't enough that Rian Maboya was attainted before the people of Shalador. It wasn't enough that Nova might someday rule in Nayarit again. It wasn't enough that Rian Maboya was dead. Nova wanted more. Nova wanted to be the hand that had wielded the knife. Nova wanted to feel Rian's blood pour out over her fingers and she wanted to shame the winged bitch, the lying sow, by never letting her blood serve Shalador. She wanted Rian's daughter to choke on her shamed name the same way that her father must have as he walked up that mountain.

When her quiver was emptied, Nova took a deep breath, took an embarrassingly hearty sniff, and scrubbed tears off her face. Crying didn't help. It would never help. Theoden Marzena was dead, and so was Rian Maboya. All that mattered was that Nova had succeeded.

Since the night before, Nova's sense of the Abyss had been strange. Usually, at her depth, there was peace; there was Yuki nearby, of course, but they weren't of the sort that shared their inner depths. Haneul and a few others lurked at the Gray, but the Ebon Gray was often quiet. Today the Abyss was charged like the thick forest air before a thunderstorm. Perhaps the spell quieting the Elder Sister would soon break. "Yuki," she said, as she wrenched arrows out of her target, "Do you... feel that?"

Before the other Ebon Gray Queen could answer, something slammed past them at the Abyss. Haneul, where he was cleaning the practice sword he almost never used, physically staggered as it passed by.

Nova looked at Yuki then, an arrow dangling uselessly from her tanned fingers. "We should go," she said, and before she could even wonder where they were meant to go it came to her: the Eldest Sister. "If we hurry, we can beat the witchstorm. C'mon!"

Offline Rian Maboya

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Re: flesh, bones, skin, and soul
« Reply #2 on: Mar 22, 18, 02:05:17 AM »
Sanguine pools reflected walls of darkest crystal. Small, white bits of dentine could be seen like tiny islands in the sea of blood. Crimson soaked her chin as a wretching cough forced yet more enamel to fall forward, slim shards slicing the tongue that had ordered her lover and sister both to their fate beneath the sand. The assault did not cease, the heart of the one claiming her price long since cured in the caves of pain and salt. Copper threatened to block out the air in lungs unused to gasping breath as pride and vanity both were stolen along with each new tooth shattered.

It was one more brutality visited upon her since the moment her sister's blade had cut her willing throat.

Bare feet had walked the searing trails in endless winding loops to the peaks of mountains that would tower above Elder Sister. Volcanic glass cut open blistered soles, leaving long stains of rust in her wake. Wings bound in rigid stricture whithered beneath the heat of a thousands suns. Membranous tissue tore and tattered. Sharp teethed vermin chewed their way through the remnants until even they could find nothing worth scavenging. Only then would the process start again.

At night's fall, strung from hooks too high to allow peace, rather pulling aching muscles taut with unease, a new torture would be chosen. What once she had considered an imagination worthy of her station no longer sufficed to capture each coming affliction. Torments unceasing, no part of her self was sacrosanct.

Each day came dread of the night, each night, dread of the day. And yet the feeling within that whispered of being forsaken by the Mother was by far what filled her with the most agony. Alone, cut off from the grace of Mother Night and the Darkness, no longer their chosen child, her Chalice shrank until barely a memory remained. A husk of what once was, a thriving parity of life compared to what would come to be, time lost all sense of passage or purpose.

And then, quite suddenly, it ceased.

Sleep smeared in ash coated delicate lashes, sticking as slowly the Priestess opened eyes never expected to see again. Golden gaze beheld her sister, Priestess Queen forbidden to know death's kiss. Beneath her obsidian cradled her, a fitting tomb for such as them. Air scented of fresh rot filled her nostrils, so pure compared to what she had known before, with contrast stark enough she questioned what new Hell this place was meant to be. It was not until Erisian's taunting words, her fist wrapped in Black Jeweled power smashing into the still beautiful face of the once High Priestess, that Rian understood.

This was not Hell. This was not death. This was Shalador.

Offline Akan Uzumati

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Re: flesh, bones, skin, and soul
« Reply #3 on: Apr 02, 18, 04:35:57 PM »
 ::)There was one thing that Akan was, and always would be, and that was steadfast. There was no hesitation between the moment of the inevitable sacrifice approaching and his answer to the Queen of his Soul. They walked into death’s embrace, and he strode forward into its fire like fearless and ready. He was willing to die for her at any moment, as he was for Rian, as he was for Elua. But none would see his duty surrendered like the young Maboya, the Mad Queen as she was called to his endless irritation and self-hate.

Their bodies all but merged; their minds drifted through the other, as the Craft done saw their purposes united. In the Darkness, where they descended in fullest, guided by Priestesses led by Rian and Erisian. All involved in this desperate gambit were bound, memories and experiences and feelings blurring and laying over the other as the Twisted Kingdom sang for their oblivion. Fragments drifted through in the passing days, the span of weeks, the drag of months, and the eternity of its year.

”I surrender all I am,” he swore, he vowed, a whispered answer that echoed a thousand times through a dozen minds as he gave of his eternity and his mortality to Erisian Maboya, the Queen who was Promised. The mark that brandished itself upon his chest bore a glow that he saw no matter whether he was alive or dead, adrift in this oblivion they knew, a mark that guided him on and gave him the strength to hold together against the abyss.

It counted amongst them his niece, who’s memories found their way into the minds of those assembled, like so many others, as all that was eventually left of them. The Darkness itself consumed them, as they surrendered themselves or burned through their own souls, in attempts to fight back the Eldest Sister’s rage or even to feed the ever withering husks of those who remained. Aciela’s death bled to grant the very rite its power, her life seeping into soil that would turn, in time, cold. Her death ached in him, but he forgave his Queen her loss, and wished only he could give of his own life to grant her a greater tomorrow in turn. He would give all, he would surrender everything, to spare Shalador and, ideally, to spare Erisian.

But he gave only what he could; and bore comfort in the memories that suffused him of his niece who’s blood opened the world to the chance of its own rescue. His Craft fueled the fire, serving as pure force by which to fund their union.

Darkness became his constant; and that single glow of his Queen’s mark upon him the guiding star that led him through the eternity, the connection allowing him to grant all he could of his power, careful in how he doled it out, seeking to let it replenish just enough so he would not himself die, while surrendering the rest to protect the three who were yet needed in this world; the Queen, the Healer, and the Priestess. But none were one he so fueled as the Queen, who refused to take the last of his heart’s essence even in the deepest of the Darkness’s embrace.

The other gift he horrifically laid upon his fellows was the memories of what he had done; of the killing fields he visited upon attacking Eyriens in the Great War, perhaps, but nothing more gripping than as he chiseled away his soul to whip to death those within the mines who, in some cases, were even of Erisian’s court. He was the brutal enforcer, all to ensure that her cup was full, so that she might feast; so that she might live. In these dark times, he had only two thoughts, even as whimpered cries grew silent under his whip and under his fist; that Rian awaited him. And that Erisian depended upon him. He was a hollowed man, ruled only by hope, and by duty, and his mind was opened to the heartbeats he shared in this insane fusion of reckless courage that pushed back the end of all they loved.

Peace approached Akan; he knew soon he would fade, and his actions ensured that perhaps he would have balanced the scales against his own soul, and at last, he would know nothingness. While he had no deathwish in truth, he yearned for the end to his life, so barren of love and of sanity and of strength he borrowed from a pit long emptied. He welcomed the end that came, even as he kept fighting to last as long as he could to ensure that his Queen, his Priestess, and his Healer might just see the tomorrows they deserved of the world he would help protect.

But his mind was disassociated; he existed at all times. The lover betrayed, the constant caregiver and protector, the reflective man beyond purpose, the warrior dying his noble death. Even as he spent every moment protecting Rian, his consciousness overlapped itself, and he spent just as much of it hating her for the abandonment that saw him and Erisian condemned. So, too, did he see the hope in Elua’s heart. So, too, did he know the tragedy that had befallen the others who called Eris their Queen. Their lives spanned out, their awareness spread between them, their truths made manifest.

He prayed to die, as well, to be freed of the horror of what he had lost without ever having it. Akan, however, was not to die. He was weak, he was frail, drained of all but the last dreg of his life, mere embers of the man he was.  But his eyes, they opened, the withered warrior laid under bonds of foliage too firm for his weakened form to even strain against their grasp. His golden eyes were dulled, gleamless, as a haze hung in the air before him. The warrior balanced on the edge of a death that had welcomed others, who laid amongst the rest without a single fleck of life remaining, their bodies hollowed out by the strain and the time that marched on while their bodies hung in an impossible fate.
In this state, trapped, on the knife’s edge of death, he heard the smack of flesh surrendering to fist, and he felt his own rage and his own hope pit against one another in pursuit of champion; but his weariness won out against them all.

Offline Karana Marzena

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Re: flesh, bones, skin, and soul
« Reply #4 on: Apr 03, 18, 11:36:00 PM »
The divisions among the Marzena  Tribe were more pronounced than Karana originally believed. Word of Nova’s return sent shockwaves through the tribe, but Karana felt it necessary to tell her people so that they were not the last to know.. First among the people she told was her daughter, Tara.

Tara’s initial reaction was, admittedly, not the one Karana expected.

If Nova Marzena is truly innocent--

She is.

If she is truly innocent, does that mean that the Guardians of Shalador will relinquish their power?” Tara asked, dark hair framing her face. Tara’s eyes were a duller gold than Karana’s own but the resemblance between the two women was undeniable. Karana sipped her water, watching her daughter gather the dishes not long after Nova’s arrival in Tikal. Tara had disagreed vehemently with Karana’s decision to join the Guardians of Shalador. She felt that the Black Widows had overstepped in the absence of the High Priestess, Rian Maboya.

We will see where things stand once all is decided. Nova’s story must be told. She is the darkest Queen in Shalador, until Erisian returns.” Karana said.

I didn’t think you cared what happened to Erisian Maboya, Mother. You know that even the Black could not turn back Eldest Sister’s wrath. The Mad Court is gone.” Tara said, watching her mother from her seat across the straw mat.

I don’t think so, Tara. I’ve seen it in my dreams. The land turns back and rises above the Sisters. Only a tidal wave of gray water stands in opposition. Everyone is forced to choose between the land and the sea. You will need to assemble the Black Web. We must delve further into the Misty Place and find the answers we need.” Karana said, finishing her water in a single gulp. She rose to her feet, readying herself to leave.


Karana called her spear to hand, but looked over her shoulder to her daughter, her only child thus far in the early morning of her long-life.

Mother, there are rumblings in the Coven. There are people who think that you’ve allowed ambition to cloud your judgement. Some say your slaying of Divada Otso was an overreach. They’re saying that you’re the one who will lead the Coven to ruin.” Tara said.

Karana faced her daughter, expression neutral. She didn't care what people said. She wanted to know why they felt comfortable enough to tell her daughter.

Then they can bring their concerns to me directly. I am not hard to find. And if you talk to any of those people in the future, remind them that I only killed Divada after she failed to kill me first. You were there. Do I lie?” Karana asked, pinning Tara beneath her gaze. Though the younger woman wore the Red, the Green Black Widow still read her as easily as she had when Tara was a young girl.

She looked away. “You do not lie, Mother.” 

Remember that the next time you listen to the lies--” Karana said.

Mother, did you feel that?” Tara asked, looking back and forth as though seeing something that Karana could not. Karana opened her mouth to ask Tara what she was talking about when she felt it as well. She felt it in her Green but the sensation soon reverberated through her body. The Abyss itself rippled and then tugged, disorienting the Head of the Coven.

Mother, what’s happening?” Tara asked, fear coloring her tone. The Red Black Widow looked to her, apprehension in her gaze. Karana hadn’t seen that kind of fear in her daughter’s eyes since the moments before her Birthright Ceremony.

I...I don’t know, Tara. I’m going to find out.” Karana said. Her mind’s eye opened and she saw the earth around the Eldest Sister gradually lose color The color drained away slowly at first, then faster and faster until the earth was black. But the blackness spread away from Eldest Sister and crept across the land until all Shalador had turned back. Even the gray wave in the sea lost the battle to the black. The sky lost the battle to the blackness.

Terreille itself grew darker until it every Territory turned black.

Mother Night…" Karana said, grasping her spear until her knuckles were bone white. It was the only thing that held her aloft.

If I don’t return, you will lead the Coven and the Black Web in my place. I love you.”  she said to Tara.

Karana sprinted for the door.

Offline Elua Atli

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Re: flesh, bones, skin, and soul
« Reply #5 on: Apr 26, 18, 02:49:07 PM »
Infinite stars.

Infinite stars, here.


Infinite —


Finite, too, yes, an eternal moment, a single state of a million dreams caught by a frozen sliver of time.

Yes, stars, dancing through the jungle night, gossamer webs of Blood Opal running across the skin in veins of lava and fire, spelling out the shapes of Queen and Priestess, the sounds of her people each a willing and willful rebellion against nature’s hunger, the faces and lives of those who had given themselves over to the weaving an ever changing, ever shifting pattern of oaths sworn.  Elua knew them each, knew the weight of the anchor and the point of the hook, as much as she had dared to wield and sink before Elua herself had been subsumed by the chasm which had swallowed her. 

Eris, then, had trusted unasked, had given unafraid, and thrust the wholeness and brokenness of it entire into the mind and hands of a single Blood Opal Widow to spin the life and death with unblinking, final focus.  Three, at its center.  Three Priestesses, who could dive into the Abyss and commune with the Darkness; three to reach deep, and all those bound to them pouring into their outstretch hands, adding their voices to the plea of a blood marked chorus.  And when the circle closed, when the web circled, the power between them swept away everything in its making.

And then the making was done, but not the oneness, no, not the endless spool of power so new and old, hers and not hers, the Black and its depths coming to the call of Queen and Widow alike, their voices forged into a single alloyed blade.  They would not live beyond this.

They would not have, but for the grace of unfathomable leviathans in the twilight and their grant of mercy.  Elua did not understand the relief, but Eris had been fierce with recognition and joy.

Once, there had been an Elua, and the shadow of the spark became the weft, the tapestry who bound and weathered the exploding heart of a volcano by darting through the fray and gathering the vanishing strands, the boundaries burning up in pillars of ash: a spark of a shadow, a memory forgotten and remembered, before oneness became stars, stars and the call of birdsong, stars and night blooming flowers, stars always.  And she knew this was a gift.  From who, or why, or how, those answers were not given to her, but this, this was.  A token of gratitude, somehow, an oasis which existed betwixt the ebb and flow of time and reality, neither madness or clarity, yet bearing the beauties of both.

At times, she would pick a single star and gaze upon it, smitten, hearing a whisper of a cavernous echo.

She would gaze until she fell, golden and green, golden with sweet sunshine and green with growing Shalador’s bounty, into that one star, that one aurora of light and see things which she, the Black Widow with a heart bright with tragedies and triumphs of other lives, wept for.  One star, unfailingly, brought her to jungle and beauty, craggy bark and obsidian temples (and, later, rain — she wondered, then, where rain had come from).  Others she tended as well, taking a fierce pride and honor from duty here even as Lady Atli might have have many lifetimes ago, in another world, in another moment.  There was peace here, peace to be found, to be made new and minted true each day.

No words, but a dream of a hand shining with terrible dark glory, holding reprisal and reprieve both in balance, the barest suggestion of an ancient love twisting around a weaver’s loom. 

Reprisal, for it was known, it was given, as much as their havens were given, that one among them had fallen on the wrong edge of the knife thin line walked by all Blood, a mere taste of the debt owed. 

And then, when the one star, the unchanging star of Shalador soil crumbling underfoot, of a child’s laughter underscored by an Abyss of Black, began to flicker, the spark that was Elua returned.

It dawned slowly, in half steps of sunrise, and then all at once, obliterating the stars, the infinite mirrored panes of the pretense eclipsed in a ferocious burst of her white hot perihelion — to pain?  To anger?  To a tightness, a confused labor of muscle and skin, and Elua awoke thinking she was suffocating, believing even as she came to life, she was lost to the fingers of death.  Irony, then, that the sound of flesh and bone meeting would bring with it the wisdom to command the complex workings of breath, that the pain and anger which fogged the mind resolved into crystal hard points of loathing.  Not her own, yet hers all the same.

Weakly, Purple Dusk nudged away the vines which cradled the body, ushering them aside as their precious heart stumbled out, knees giving in graceless seconds, and watched, helpless and otherworldly in her calm as Erisian Maboya beat the rhythm of her rage into her sister, one and own family (no, no, not last, there were… more?).  This was only as it should be.

As it needed to be.

Elua reached for the violent savagery after a while, her arm shaking from the effort, and called for the strength which had been, however briefly, no different from her own.  “Eris,” the siren voice the Priestess Queen had named her, roughly recalled and translated to human tongue.  Wait.  Save your strength.  Do not do this now, and diminish in rage.   She did not say any of this.  No, Elua said, instead, in a simple graveness that had always been her charm and her silent weapon: 

“She owes all of Shalador.”

And for her death to be taken here, now, like this, would rob Shalador of justice.

Offline Lyra Amar

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Re: flesh, bones, skin, and soul
« Reply #6 on: Apr 29, 18, 11:20:18 PM »
There weren't words to describe what Lyra had lived and breathed for time immemorable. Ribbons of Jeweled power were braided in intricate patterns that seemed to move ceaselessly, cradling the sleeping (was it a truly a dream?) Mad Court. They had crossed the sands to bring their Queen home to her Jungle and walked into the heart of a volcano with her without question. Forged within the salt, even molten magma could not rend their bonds. 

The presence of her Sisters was a deep comfort, one that lapped at her awareness like gentle waves. A strange sensation for the desert born hearth witch, but one she found soothed her soul regardless.

The closeness of the males in the swirling of strength and Craft there in that sacred place was not unwelcome, something that would have shocked her were such an emotion accessible to her. Rather, they felt as natural as the dark presence of her Priestess Queen. Were they within her consciouness? Or was this a part of the Abyss not meant for madness?

Awareness shifted as Lyra slowly settled once again into the prison of her body. Her muscles screamed from lack of use, but nothing could compare to the pain of her bad leg. The absence of pain had felt like euphoria. Her usual tolerance had been stripped from her, plunging her into agony. She gasped for air and moved slowly, achingly slowly, to come to sitting.

Others were stirring and she watched through blurred vision as her Queen viciously attacked the mistress of her demise. Lyra's own rage echoed her Lady's and she sat and watched for long moments, unmoving. It was Elua's words that finally broke the spell and caused Lyra to find her feet beneath her. Limping painfully, she made her way to Eris and Rian. Her heart ached as she passed by the members of their party who had faded out into nothingness during their long journey. Their sacrifice would be remembered.

She watched with satisfaction as her Queen slammed her fist into her sister's face one final time. Thickening blood pooled at her feet as she moved closer. Bending forward, Lyra dragged her fingers through the sanguine river that gushed forth from Rian's mouth and nose. Finding what she sought, she offered her crimson stained hand to Eris, uncurling her fingers to reveal several sharp bits of dentin resting in her palm.

"I can make you a necklace of these if you like, my Lady."

Offline Yuki Natsuhana

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Re: flesh, bones, skin, and soul
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 18, 05:57:16 PM »
Yuki liked Shalador. 

She liked it as much as she could like any place, so foreign, so strange, rampant with wild males and the unfortunate ailment of being not Tacea.  The twice blessed lady yearned for the mountains of her homeland, the wooded forests, the call of ocean and tide by the cliffs.  Cultured art and song, the complex and complicated systems of honor that bound all the children of the isles into one clan, one family, daughters and sons of Tacea’s fruits and horizons.  Being here in Shalador, she had missed a great deal.

Still, there was Hanuel beside her, and Nova as well — a fearless Queen, worthy of Shalador, who wielded bow with the furor and skill of any Taken witch.  Two Sapphire to Ebon Grey Queens, so closely mirrored in strength; yes, Yuki admired Nova Marzena, and had done her own responsible share of listening during her days in the wet jungles of Shalador.  Eventually, stories of Nova’s exile, her wandering of the realm, her quest for innocence and where it had led.  To think that any Queen, any dragon born should be so dishonored, cast out from her heart land and brought low by treachery drew forth a cruel rage to the Healer Queen, who cherished so deeply even far from home those tenants of her soul.  It was an unfathomable betrayal that made her stomach tight with fury.

So too had many of the sister Queens outside of Tacea suffered. 

That it was a common place thing disgusted Yuki to the marrow of her bones; the wrongness, the sacrilege, burned her as fierce as any fire mountain, spewing molten earth in rainfalls of sparking.  What sort of world had Tacea been thrust into?  One that buried their Queens under seas of sand?  One that enslaved — that was a new word, a word Yuki had learned with heartbreak in her throat — and stole and murdered those born to safeguard and nurture it?  The wheel of life itself seemed to be set askew, spun backwards as it unraveled towards death and doom.  A part of her hated this place, this Realm of Light.

Practicing with Nova was a unique and precious relief, a refuge in a world  that shied away from the words of offered sparring before demurring.  Shalador did not have Dragon Mothers.  None of Terreille did.  Learning, slowly, through spar after spar, the stances, the grips, the footwork of a land so different from those she had been versed in, feeling the ease of her muscles warming under the sun as her body drew her mind away from more troubling and unsettling thoughts.

Thoughts which slammed into her moments after they had Nova.

Trust, built so tenuously and delicately, stretched between them.

Yuki closed her eyes for a single instant, savoring the psychic strength, the depth of the Abyss which was perhaps the only thing that remained unchanged and familiar in this place, and opened them once more armored with a lethal luster, polished and ready for the violence and bloodshed promised in the howling power that had swept past them.  “Yes,” she agreed, and said no more, collecting Hanuel with a glance as she loped along, sipping from the rim of her strength to follow in rushing steps of her friend. 

She had stayed in Shalador because the darkness had pressed on her, had weighed on her, whenever she had thought to leave.  Wait, had been the ephemeral whisper.  Patience, dragon daughter.

Now, the whisper, the faintest press of shadow and mist, vanished.  Or rather, perhaps, it had finally awakened.